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Holmes and Frankfurter: Their Correspondence, 1912-1934

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Edited by Robert M. Mennel and Christine L. Compston

Nearly 400 previously unpublished letters capture the essence of an extraordinary and in some ways unlikely friendship between one of America's preeminent jurists and a younger, reform-minded colleague who would himself one day ascend to the Supreme Court. Oliver Wendell Holmes was 71 when introduced to fiery, effervescent Felix Frankfurter, who'd come to Washington at age 30 to serve President Taft. The two couldn't have had more different backgrounds: Holmes a Civil War hero of Boston Brahmin stock, and Frankfurter a Jewish immigrant whose reformist views would lead him to help found the American Civil Liberties Union and act as key advisor to Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal.

With an introduction providing historical background and annotations that supply context for cases mentioned, this unique collection illuminates a strong and mutually satisfying personal and professional relationship between two men whose exchanges on the meaning of law in general and American law in particular, the editors write, "found expression in their work and influenced legal and political change in their own lifetimes and in ours as well."